Symphonic death metal is still a dichotomy within the extreme music world.
When done well, it can be a brilliant thing – Fleshgod Apocalypse’s last album is an example of this. However, when it is bad, it can leave a memorable stain.
MaYan are a symphonic death metal band that up until this point have somehow missed my playlists. Created as an outlet by guitarist vocalist Mark Jansen (After Forever, Epica) as an outlet for his more theatrical/prog-leaning music, gathering a mass of musicians along the way sees the band currently stand at nine members.
This, their third album sees the symphonic sound fleshed out properly with the help of the City of Prague Symphony Orchestra and as such carries the sort of cinematic bombast you should expect as the band near perfectly blends in with their own hammering drums and shrill attack of death metal guitars and a handy helping of prog driven keyboards to help boost the sound, as if that was needed.
This sounds like a strange mish mash, but it needs to be heard to take it completely on board. ‘Tornado Of Thoughts (I Don’t Think, Therefore I Am)’ the second track in, is a great taster to what I am (badly) describing. In just under five minutes it swings from Symphony to death metal into prog territory complete with a female choir, and back to reality with more driving symphony over the top of the pummelling assault of modern death metal.
The album title track ‘Dhyana’ brings early respite as the twin female vocals of Laura Macri and Marcelo Bovio combine beautifully over the hush of an acoustic guitar and cello creating something that feels at once out of place, but also perfectly placed in the chaos that gleefully surrounds it.
This reprieve is short lived as the band dives head long back into its symphonic brand of chaos as ‘Rebirth From Despair’ takes things in a heavy direction with the female vocals again allowing moments of beauty amongst the ugliness and weight of the music. Particularly in the mid section of the song as Macri sings mournfully before Jensen’s harsh vocal bark comes in to take the light of the song away before she wrestles back control and dare I say it, the beauty of the music with the help of the operatic prowess of Bovio.
The biggest combination of elements comes together on ‘The Illusory Self’ as it wanders from cinema soundtrack territory to death, all while holding very close to a prog scope of sounds that uses a great combination of death metal vocals and female choir on a journey into the restful ‘Satori’. Like the title track before it, this serves to give the listener a short intermission style break before getting beaten around sonically again.
Overall the album achieves what it sets out to do, entertain across many musical soundscapes, often times very cinematic – a quality created by the use of a live orchestra. It keeps you guessing throughout musically, sometimes taking the lead, other times in the background allowing MaYan to take the music in a far more deathly direction. If you have any real interest in music of any form this has something there for you with its constant musical evolution.
This will surely find a home on top of the memorable music pile along with Septicflesh and Fleshgod Apocalypse.
- The Rhythm of Freedom
- Tornado of Thoughts (I Don’t Think, Therefore I Am)
- Saints Don’t Die
- Rebirth From Despair
- The Power Process
- The Illusory Self
- Maya (The Veil of Delusion)
- The Flaming Rage of God
- Set Me Free